GP 'feel' questions

-- Last Updated: Sep-03-08 10:52 AM EST --

Although I don't use a GP,I am making my 3rd one for someone else.The first was too thin in cross-section and had too much flex. The 2nd, which I tried yesterday felt good, even from the seat of the Voyager, which is 3-4" higher than a yak seat.
Question is, what does a GP feel like compared to a euro?My impression was that it was almost wing-like. (I have tried a couple wings)
The blade was harder to bury and on the stroke felt like it wanted to move away from the boat.
Do GP lend themselves more to a less vertical stroke?

greenland paddle on the water, is like a hand massaging a smooth well oiled thigh…let Your imagination go wild…

not like a wing and not like a Euro…that’s one of the reasons it gets it’s own name…it uses it’s own stroke and it can be either high or low or …in between.

Best wishes


What I Was Told

– Last Updated: Sep-03-08 4:26 PM EST –

"Put your hands right down into the water." It was good advice. Do that and tell me what you think.

No, I ain't saying the GP stroke is supposed to feel wet. The stroke just feels smooth and powerful when you do that.


put on a heart rate monitor
and a gps on the boat. You’ll figure it out pretty quick for YOU. Not anyone else.


No substitute for knowing firsthand

– Last Updated: Sep-03-08 5:16 PM EST –

I'd never carve or make paddles for others that I had no feel for myself.

I had a couple thousand miles on GPs before I ever carved one. I'd seen and tried dozens of others by then too (including a couple I still consider excellent benchmarks - Superior's and Beale's). I also put a couple hundred on my first Aleut before making any more examples/variations. Same for my hybrids.

It's critical IMO for making decent paddles. Much of the misinformation and bad impressions of GPs comes from self made paddles done w/o sufficient reference and paddling experience. Partly because the paddles aren't too good (on average- some are), and partly because the paddler has no idea what "good" in a GP is. Lots of variation in "good" - but very hard to stumble upon any of this by blind luck.

Feedback you'll get - particularly if from others new to GPs - is likely to further compound/confuse all this.

It ain't rocket science, but the simple looking form makes it easy to overlook how refined a design it really is. Little stuff in the design and the techniques matters, and these are things only the water can reveal (clearly and simply) over time.

The plans and pictures only get you so far. They can't tell you how it should feel in the hand and on the water (and the on-line info will only confuse unless verified through extended use). The only way to get there is to use them, and that's best done exclusively at first, for several months or more (and preferably in a narrow enough kayak to allow them to be used as intended). This is because there is as much to unlearn as there is to learn. Without doing this, you'll have no idea what you're making, or what effects small changes in in shapes and sizes will have.

Nothing personal here - and not commenting directly on your paddles or woodworking skills. These are the same thoughts I share with anyone/everyone. I made similar comments to Pat/ONNO when he was bouncing around the idea of making GPs. Reason he makes such nice EP/Wings is that in addition to his fine craftsmanship and composite layup skills, he has an excellent firsthand understanding of those paddles on the water from years of extensive use and testing (in all sorts of conditions and in all sorts of kayaks). Each paddle he makes reflects this experience.

Make what you like, as I know you like "making wood chips", but there are a lot of other ways to do that -some you probably do have a feel for - with results to match.

Or you could get your hands on a good benchmark paddle or two and paddle the hell out of 'em for a while...

All are fun options to have.

My take on the GP
Having paddled thousands of miles and sampled many boats…nothing was more exciting than paddling with a GP.

It stands alone and totally different than a Euro or wing. It is not a paddle that I would try to seel with words but my putting it in the hands of a paddler on the water.

Kinda like a Rapidfire… paddle it a feel the difference.

Paddlin’ on


Just this morning
I met a guy out on the lake in his kayak. He was very interested in my GP and the Aleutian hybrid take apart I was testing out. We got to talking a lot and he used my gp for a while and while it was a bit weird for him at first, the paddle really gave him direction and he was paddling much more efficiently and faster in just a short period of time.

We are getting together tomorrow am and I will be bringing him the tempest 165 (he’s a smaller guy) and a couple of different GP’s as well as Greyaks Aleutian paddle to try out.

If the paddle won’t submerge…

– Last Updated: Sep-05-08 8:04 AM EST –

...the most likely culprit is that you're reaching too far forward when planting it, as you would do with a Euro paddle. Doing that pretty much guarantees that the paddle blade will enter the water with the top edge canted backward slightly, which adds a bracing component to the stroke and keeps the paddle at or near the surface. This is the opposite of the canted stroke that many GP users prefer, which causes the blade to submerge very quickly. With a GP, you don't reach forward to plant the blade, just rotate your shoulder forward and extend your arm comfortably. The plant should occur somewhere near mid-shin. Try this and I think you'll see a big difference.

A GP will work at any angle, from very low (useful for shallow water) to near vertical. It can be used with a wing-like stroke and sometimes I flare my stroke outward as a change of pace. Work with your paddle and over time, you will develop a feel for how it likes to be used. As is often said, the paddle will teach you how to use it. You just have to listen to what it's telling you.

Thank you Bryan.You answered my
question with the info I needed.Now I can help the people I’m building paddles for learn to use them.None of them have a GP, so I guess I could ruin them for life.

Once you go over to the Dark Side…
…you can never go back! :wink:

One Last Comment

– Last Updated: Sep-06-08 7:39 AM EST –

Besides "Put your hands right down into the water", another thing I was told that I think was valuable: "Keep your elbows down." I think the "elbows down" rule helps make for an efficient stroke and keeps the wrists pain-free.

Good Timing
I was on the phone with my buddy this morning and we were both talking about selling our last remaining euros.

Too much talk
Every single paddle is different and will tell you the most efficient way to paddle it. There are those that can make subtle variations in the loom shape, the shoulders, and even the width of paddle tips and all of these will change the way you hold and use the paddle. As has been said many many times before, the paddle will teach you how to paddle it. Elbows up ala chicken wing, elbows down, hands in the water, shorter paddle, longer paddle, rounded tip, squared off tips, etc etc. It is all good.


Just For Spite

– Last Updated: Sep-07-08 6:25 AM EST –

I've got to talk some more...

STRING... The guy who taught me how to use the GP was Bill Bremer, maker of Lumpy paddles:

The information he gave me was very valuable for a brand spankin' new GP beginner which is where you are now. The last thing he told me was to direct my 'pushing' hand toward my foot on the opposite side. (right hand toward my left foot & left hand toward right foot)

Also! Forget about the 'exit at the hip' rule for the euro. Bring the paddle on back.

1) Elbows down
2) Hands in the water
3) Push toward your foot
4) Long stroke

These rules will give you an excellent starting point to grow from.

Sounds like good advice to me

– Last Updated: Sep-07-08 10:21 AM EST –

The only two things I would embellish are:

1 - I don't push toward my foot, but more toward my knee/ upper shin - forward and down across the deck - and my pushing hand crosses the centerline of the deck on every stroke. That's considered normal when using a GP.

2 - My elbows are "down" in that they're below the level of my shoulders, but the upper (pushing side) elbow isn't much below my shoulder and I make no specific effort to keep my elbows down, I just do what feels natural and comfortable. I think that to a large degree, the relatively short loom and closer hand spacing used with a GP forces you to keep your upper elbow lower than with a Euro paddle.

And it is the upper hand pushing across the deck that maintains the cant that enables the paddle to slice into the water and exit pulling up further aft. You can use a GP as in the Brent Reitz Euro racing stroke if you want, but it is easier and much more efficient to use it as intended–see Greg Stamer’s article in Eastern Artic Kayaks. The idea that “all is good”–sorry, Paul–is fine from a place of paddling should be fun so who cares, but there are levels of skill and using a GP like a Euro is IMO paddling at lower skill level.

My 3rd one gets its’ trial run tomorrow.

– Last Updated: Sep-07-08 7:12 PM EST –

Since my canoes are kayaks without decks , I'll try these suggestions.
Thanks everyone.

if you are racing in Greenland
You will have developed a style that works for you in a skin on frame. If you are racing in the olympics you are probably using a wing. It all depends on the venue, the conditions, your mood, what you are trying to accomplish etc. It IS all good. Levels of skill are fun things to pursue and you adapt your paddling towards that skill. there is no one approach and I will quote greg Stamer back to you when he said that there are as many ways to use a greenland paddle as there are greenland paddlers. (ok it is a paraphrase)

One of the best paddlers I have ever seen who posts here regularly and teaches at the highest levels does an awful lot of things “wrong” and I doubt there is anyone on these forums who could challenge or even come close to his skill level.


The friend I made the paddle for
used it for six miles this morning.He was easily keeping up with the Voyager in his Carolina 15.He was not easily keeping up with his Euro. His form looked great.

The only adjustment he requested was a slight decrease in the loom diameter.

I gave him all your posts to read , and after some study he did great.